Pitfalls and Drawbacks of Authentic Leadership

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Leadership Styles > Best Practices > Pitfalls and Drawbacks of Authentic Leadership

Pitfalls and Drawbacks of Authentic Leadership
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
Although authenticity has become a popular and according to some people critical feature for efficient leadership, Ibarra (2015) argues that the success of the authentic leadership approach depends on the way it is perceived/defined. A too static definition of authenticity, thereby seeing it as a static unwavering identity, may actually hamper effective leadership and growth.

Leaders indeed struggle with this type of leadership today, especially because of current dynamic environments. These require more frequent and more radical changes in what we do, rather than sticking too much to authentic leadership principles.
In other words: leaders should balance authenticity and adaptability. If one of those exceeds the other, the probability of being ineffective is high. For example, if authenticity overrides adaptability, learning and growth are inhibited.

In conclusion, authenticity can be interpreted in various ways. Seeing it as 'being the way we have always been’ will hamper business growth and efficient leadership rather than supporting it.

⇒Are there any other disadvantages or pitfalls of authentic leadership?

Source: Ibarra, H. (2015) “Don’t let Authenticity Hold you Back” Harvard Business Review.

Another Pitfall Related to Authentic Leadership
Olga Aros, Consultant, United States, Member
First, self knowledge and exploring your foundation of beliefs and values is critical to any leadership. Every organization has developed norms and behaviors that are considered acceptable and in most cases required by an individual if they are to "fit" within the organization. This requires adaptability towards and display of the organization’s culture.
These can come in conflict with an individual committed to authentic leadership. It is both an asset to using authenticity to enlighten an organization and a pitfall if the organization demands and pressures individuals to practice conformity. For those whose norms, beliefs are different and displayed it can be a pitfall to an organization and a challenge to authentic leadership. It will always be a new learning for an organization as well as a leader to finding effective ways to make a difference.

Not Only for the Leaders
jorge anibal hoyos hoyos, Manager, Colombia, Member
I think the major thing is "adaptability with authenticity", I think this holds true not only at all levels and points of the organization, but also in our normal way of life, always working into proactive environment with no apprehensions, as a team.

Adaptablity overides in the private sector than the public sector
ZB Gurmessa, Student (University), South Africa, Member
The issue of authenticity versus adaptability is a major leadership paradigm today. The application and effectiveness of these leadership styles depends on the context:
- The private sector is meant to produce goods that are liked by the consumers/customers and hence whatever they do is aimed at pleasing their customers. They may happen to twist this fact to get acceptance by the larger crowd. It is the preference of the market that derives what they usually do. This phenomenon influences the kind of leadership style that they should follow to run their business. The private sector is skewed to "adaptability" over "authenticity". Therefore, adaptability is overriding in the private sector.
- In the public sector most of the decisions are made by the book or through rules and regulations. As opposed to the private sector, the public sector operates in a relatively stable and static environment making "authenticity" much more favourable leadership style over adaptability.
In summary, the leadership style in the private sector should be more adaptive than the public sector.

Authenticity May Sometimes Support Adaptability
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
Rules, procedures, policies take time to change. In order to initiate change, a little bit of compromise or authenticity may help to the cause of innovation/change?
For example, some company in the construction sector might require a minimum of say 8 to 9 years of experience in that industry from candidates for a job. In order to achieve more innovation maybe a compromise to the authenticity of contents of resume for a professional who has experience in software and is willing to work in the construction industry may be of help to the cause of inducing innovation?

Authenticity is no Longer a Pill
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
Authenticity must be recognized and accepted by all stakeholders. There is no recipe.
Secondly, being authentic is not a question of mood, it is a way of being, staying alive in the world, not only in business, but also in common life. You can not be authentic only if you want to.
Thirdly, authenticity needs you to learn every nanosecond. You must know thyself almost entirely and respect all the possibilities to be understood.

On the other hand, in my research on authentic leadership, I have observed that people potentially expect from their companies adequate material conditions plus a meaningful contribution.
I have found also that there is the possibility of authentic leadership influence not being felt by all or most followers.
In any case, authenticity is no longer a simple pill for leadership.

No Authentic Leadership
c r ghosh, India, Member
I do not think that there is anything called "Authentic Leadership". A leader has to have some qualities and traits, like Knowledge of the subject, Integrity, Listening Ability, Self Confidence and Communication Skills. But a leader has to react/respond based on the situation and situations differ. He has to adapt, else he will fail.

Authentic versus Traditional Leadership
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
It is indeed dangerous to mix Authentic (the real deal) with Traditional (Historical in both nature and application) leadership.
The "real deal" is constantly in demand and, by its very nature, adapts in anticipation of change in each and every respect. Historical leadership is bound and limited by tradition and established norms, which only change in response to results. This form of leadership is not true, in fact it is more "followership" as it follows change, rather than initiating or being ahead of it.
I suggest that this topic evolved out of an inaccurate definition and misuse of English which has little relevance to leadership.

The Diversity of Leadership Skills Today is a Requirement
Olga Aros, Consultant, United States, Member
Worked in Fortune 500 cultures, public sector and community development. Each culture had different priorities that required different approaches to getting results. This was primarily true for the private sector who focused on the future, and less in the public and community sectors who were reliant on government.
Still, all required leadership that brought innovation, creation, adaptability, knowledge, experience and two specific skills: Anticipation of the future and Curiosity. Without these two skill sets it makes it difficult to drive change in "old" work environments, but it can be done with data driven leadership. I find few leaders who have mastered anticipation and practice constant data driven curiosity with a purpose.
Throughout all these environments, one must be authentic to oneself in order to be grounded and anchored to sustain the many struggles that come with leadership and change.

Authenticity is no Longer a Pill
Isaias Joao, Director, Angola, Member
@Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco: I fully agree with you, Victor Seco. Authenticity is not a choice, but what you really are. Even if you hide it, sooner or later the truth will come to the surface.

Meanings and Problems of Authentic Leadership
Gandhi Heryanto, Management Consultant, Indonesia, Premium Member
There are 2 different meanings of authentic leadership:
- Firstly it is a term used by Bill George. He focuses on the need for better corporate leaders who espouse and act consistent with higher order business ethics and ethical values. He approaches the leader as a person with self awareness to achieve leadership development.
- Secondly, authenticity refers to being open, honest and real. It is originated with the Humanistic School of psychology which suggests that we can not help others unless we share ourselves openly and honestly, that we are real.
While authentic leadership sounds like a good thing it may be that being completely and utterly authentic can be problematic for modern leaders in our complex organization world, because a leader will lose the distinction between him as a person and as a leader while honesty and openness is not always possible in today’s world (source www.leadertoday.org).

Authenticity Will Always Synergize with Adaptibility
Supriyono, Lecturer, Indonesia, Member
My experience in working in corporate multinational mining company, private primary and middle schools, as well as Universities has inspired me that authenticity results from a so-called "shaking environment" and there must be quite tough challenges to face.
Combining the organizational change as introduced by Kurt Lewin (Editor: Unfreezing, Moving, Refreezing) with the combination of authenticity and adaptation to the organization’s goals, environment, and potential resources, I have led many new changes that make the organization successful and people motivated.

Leadership is not Only Acting
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
Some participants of this forum suggest that leadership is a question of adaptability and, obviously, survival. Like in any field of life "the show must go on" and leaders must combine their skills with demands from reality.
That's probably why some leaders seem shocked when they are sure they made the things good and they didn't value the good things. If they are concerned with others, they become that way because after their "good job" they found that their employees don't trust them, don't believe them and want to leave the company as soon as they can.
So leadership is not only acting in the scene of life, it is much more living and working every second with authenticity.

Authenticity versus Adaptability
Briolett, Manager, Canada, Member
Authenticity is more a way of being not necessarily an idea of 'being the way we have always been'. Authentic leadership is about open and honest communications and being open to the ideas and inputs of others regardless of position. Adaptability is inevitable with authentic leadership.

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